Hi Vince! Can you elaborate on the creative process behind “Heaven Into Dust” and how it differs from your previous work?
Hey, first, thanks a lot for the interview. After we had finished the “Sounds of Sacrifice” tapes we already started thinking about another record. We usually stick to the same “formula” that we had from the very beginning. At a certain point, Laz starts writing new riffs and comes up with new ideas. Afterwards I started writing the lyrics. Sometimes I can use some of the ideas that are on my ever-growing list of titles, sometimes I write lyrics that I come up with while listening to Laz’s riffs. There is no real pressure for us. Whenever there are riffs or fragments of lyrics, we start to work on the songs. When we have enough songs, we start planning to record them.
The album opener, “Hawks Of Hades,” has a dramatic and dark tone. What inspired the atmosphere and lyrical content of this track?
The lyrics are inspired by the worsening situation our planet is facing. There are wars, conflicts, people killing each other. The lyrics are about bombers who spread terror and bring death. It is our anti-war song. We decided to use the dramatic organ intro to set the tone of the record and as a contrast to the assault that is “Hawks of Hades”. It is one of the most aggressive songs so far. We incorporated some Thrash/Death influences to make the song even more intense.
How do you manage to blend different musical styles seamlessly, and what influences played a significant role in shaping “Night Vision”?
When we started the band there were no real musical limits for as. Well, there was one. It should be wild, hard, and heavy. We are still influenced by all kinds of Metal and Punk music. What links it all together is the no frills attitude. There is always a certain aggression to the music, sometimes in a rather “thrashy” sense, sometimes more Punk-oriented. I think that this is the reason why these songs fit together quite well. On the album sleeve of our debut our slasher dude sported a VENOM and an IRON MAIDEN badge. I think this still summarizes our attitude quite well. Sometimes it is more MAIDEN, sometimes it is more chaotic, and more VENOM.
“With Torches They March” and “Black Oath and Spells” showcase your hard rock and heavy metal influences. Can you share the story behind these songs and how you incorporated these influences into your music?
Laz is not only influenced by the aggressive Punk, Speed, Death or Black Metal, he is also mainly influenced by the guitar gods of the 70s and 80s. These influences can be heard in these two songs quite well. To me, these two songs are also the most “German” ones, since “With Torches…” has a huge ACCEPT feeling, whereas “Black Oath…” reminds me of RUNNING WILD. Maybe not everyone shares these thoughts, but I think it fits.
One of Laz’s major influence is W.A.S.P. and I think this has also a big impact on the KNIFE sound. The lyrics of “With Torches…” describes and criticizes the ongoing shift to the right in many European countries and the US and “Black Oath…” is a fantasy story about the witch trials.
What emotions were you trying to convey through “No Gods in the Dark”, and what message do you want listeners to take away from it?
Since the lyrics are mainly influenced by real crime events and 80s horror movies, we wanted to create a rather gloomy feeling. The lyrics describe the desperate situations of the victim of an assault. The music is quite Punk influenced and so are the vocals, whereas the final part of the song is rather in the epic BATHORY tradition. We wanted the album to end as dramatic as it started. We liked the idea of adding a new ingredient to the sound to round everything off.
How does KNIFE approach songwriting? Are there specific themes or experiences that often inspire your lyrics and music?
As stated earlier, we usually start with the riffs. Laz comes up with the first ideas, I start writing the lyrics and then we start to arrange everything. Since we are all fans of all kinds of (hard) music we incorporate different influences into our sound. To a certain extent it depends on what we are currently listening to. This also influences my lyrics. If I am more into crime stories, I write lyrics about lunatics. Sometimes I am also influenced by the news. There are so many bad things going on, I am quite sure I can go on writing dark lyrics for ever. The main topics are still religion, war, crime, horror and… METAL!
How did the challenges of the pandemic influence your creative process and the themes explored in “Heaven Into Dust”?
I think the pandemic did not really have an impact on “Heaven…”. Except for the lyrics of “With Torches…”. A song showcasing how people during the pandemic did not only accept racist groups and their ideas, but they also supported them. Fuck that!
But the majority of songs were not written under the influence of the pandemic. We used the time of the shutdowns to prepare our first album, we enjoyed the possibilities to hang out and play live again when we wrote “Heaven…”.
What role do you believe lyrics play in metal music, especially in the context of conveying intense emotions and powerful messages?
I think it depends on the intention of the artist. Many bands claim that the vocals and thus the lyrics are just another instrument. To a certain extent, I would agree that lyrics are not that important for some bands. To me, music lyrics are a vehicle. They could be used to showcase your feelings, your frustrations and anger. But also positive emotions, especially when you sing about music. It could be escapism. Metal music is always a tool to cope with reality. Or to flee. And the lyrics are often the key to that door.
How do you prepare for your live shows, and what can fans expect from your upcoming festival appearances at Wacken Open Air and Rock Hard festival?
Playing these big events was amazing for us. The audiences were amazing, the whole organization was great. We do not really ‘prepare’ for our shows. We rehearse and since there is only one aim to reach, we just have to go out and do it. We have to kick the people in the teeth, hehe. For our upcoming shows we rehearsed some tracks off the new record, and we have changed the setlist. We are ready to strike.
How does critical acclaim impact your artistic vision and your approach to future projects?
We are always more than happy when people appreciate what we do. It is great to see and read that people love what we do. But we still do what we do, we still play Black Speed Metal Punk, and this won’t change. Of course, if there is constructive criticism we try to improve. But there is no pressure for us.
As a band, how do you navigate the balance between staying true to your unique sound and experimenting with new elements to keep your music fresh and innovative?
I think it is important that we do not have any limits, like I’ve mentioned earlier. If we have a song that is more Punk or more Black Metal, but it is still KNIFE, we will use these songs. And I think this mixture of styles makes it interesting for the listeners.
What advice do you have for aspiring metal musicians and bands, especially those looking to make a mark in the industry as you have?
Puh, this is a tricky question. I’ve been in bands for more than 20 years and we have made so many mistakes. I think, the most important thing is to find something that you are good at and focus on your strengths. It is cliché, but “be true”. And you need to have a plan of what you want to achieve. We try our best to avoid the mistakes we made in the past.
How do you see the future of metal music evolving, and where do you think KNIFE fits into the broader landscape of the genre?
There are many new bands keeping the flame of Metal burning, so the underground will hopefully live forever. Once the big ones have disappeared, I think the true Metal bands will return to the underground and have a vital scene there. And hopefully we will be part of it. We just keep on playing fast and evil music. To quote ANVIL, “To hell with tomorrow, let’s live for today!”, hehe.
Lastly, looking back at your journey from forming in 2019 to the release of “Heaven Into Dust” in 2023, what have been the most significant lessons you’ve learned, both as individuals and as a band? Thank you for your time!
The last years were really intense. We made so many cool experiences. We learned a lot about how to organize a band and how a band can grow. I personally found out, how to positively cope with stress. More or less successful, hehe. The battle has just begun. Let’s see what will happen next. UP THE IRONS! And thank you for the interview. The KNIFE is risen to thee!
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